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The Sexualisation of our Children

On the one hand, we all hate paedophiles. Whenever a story comes up in the news about paedophiles we all tut and complain about how disgusting they are, and Twitter and Facebook are full of everyone’s opinions that they should be shot or similar.

On the other hand, these days we seem so keen to force our children to grow up earlier and earlier. Little girls, especially, are sexualised from a very young age these days.

Photo taken from ebay, where there’s a
never-ending supply of heeled shoes for children.

Many people seem to pierce their little girl’s ears when the girl herself is far too young to express an opinion one way or the other. We put our little girls in revealing outfits with “sexy” slogans on them. They wear crop tops long before they have anything that would need to be covered by one. You can buy heeled shoes in such small sizes these days, you could easily find a dozen pairs for a five-year-old to wear. Some of them are knee-high boots. Someone, please tell me: what does a five-year-old girl need with a pair of knee-high, heeled boots? She should be wearing grubby trainers and running around the playground, surely. I’ve heard people tell children they look “sexy.” Children. Why is “sexy” something we want our children to be aiming for in their looks? Surely, if anything, we’d rather they look “smart” or if you’re going somewhere important, “clean” – but sexy? Really?

One thing that really irritates me is this whole “oh, they’re boyfriend and girlfriend!” thing – often when a child is only a few months old! What’s that all about? Why can’t children just be friends? Do we really want our children to have boyfriends and girlfriends before they can even speak? What do we do then, when they get older and have a boyfriend and want to kiss him like they’ve seen on TV? Surely it’s better to leave it as long as possible before your child is deemed to be in a relationship?

When your daughter returns to school in September, will she be going with a brand new Playboy pencil case and pens? Will she be wearing heeled school shoes and a skirt as far above her knee as she can get away with? Will she have new ear rings, hair straightened to within an inch of its pre-teen life? Who is she dressing up for, any way?

Besides the fact we’re forcing our children to leave their childhoods earlier and earlier, how can we condemn those who lust after children, when we’re encouraging our children to head in that very direction?

Don’t get me wrong here; I’m not in any way trying to excuse paedophiles’ behaviour, or trying to say that parents encourage paedophile behaviour. Or, God forbid, that children could be in any way to blame for that sort of thing.  I’m not for one moment saying that it’s a parent’s fault or a child’s fault if a child is abused. The blame will always lie 100% with the perpetrator.

But doesn’t anyone find it a massive discrepancy in our culture, where paedophilia is so universally reviled, but we put our kids in crop tops and heels, pierce their ears and parade them down the street calling them sexy?

Vicky is a mother, a blogger, a podcaster and a social media trainer. She writes about life as a single mother, parenting and lifestyle type things.

21 Comments
  • Anonymous

      REPLY

    Love it :-)

  • Stacey Gannett

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    Love this! I totally agree! My daughter is going to be 11 and while I am happy to let her dress cute, it will not be revealing at all. She will only wear one piece suits, shorts to the knees, shirts that cover all that they are supposed to. New follower here from Stacey @ This Momma's Ramblings!

  • Kylie Hodges

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    I don&#39;t have a little girl, I have a boy. And I am pleased in a way. Not that boys are any less risk of child sexual abuse, but the same issues with sexualisation don&#39;t apply.<br /><br />However, what I am worried about is my little boy being exposed to little girls as sex objects from a young age. To me its not so much about the risk of paedophiles, but bringing up children to have

  • JulesL

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    My step-daughter is 9 &amp; was recently invited to a friends party at a beauty salon where they would have hair, nails &amp; make-up done! Pretty sure at that age I was still playing pass the parcel &amp; musical bumps

  • Anonymous

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    My daughter is 8 and knows how strict i am in regards to no heels cropped tops ect. I hate this lets make children into mini adults thing. As for boyfriends she told me the other day her friend was silly for having a boyfriend as you should wait till your 30 been to uni and got a good job lol<br /> not going to argue with that!!<br /><br />on the other hand though i see the damage the culture of

  • SEO Belle

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    I had a boy first and barely considered these issues, but when I had a little girl I have been constantly worried about the over sexualisation of girls I don&#39;t think it has a big effect on peodophiles but it does change attitudes on how people look and how they feel. I wasn&#39;t allowed my ears pierced until I was 14 now 2 year olds and younger get it done. I feel children should stay

  • Delia @ Blog Formatting

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    I agree there&#39;s lots of ads and products that encourage kinds to grow quicker than we used to, but at the same time it&#39;s really up to us as parents to shape our kids behaviour. Of course, they are influenced by many other people and circumstances they come in contact with. Much like we were when we were kids :)<br />Regarding ear piercing, it&#39;s a matter of the country/family you are

  • Aisha from Expatlog

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    This is a subject close to my heart too and one I wrote about following a &#39;disagreement&#39; with a mummy blogger who refused to see how the early sexualisation of children puts them at greater risk from sexual predators. Her friends were all for cosmetics parties for eight-year-olds and reckoned I&#39;d had too many sherbets mentioning pre-pubescent smellies &amp; lip gloss and Jimmy Saville

  • Eco Gites of Lénault

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    Totally agree - I have boys so in a way I have been spared the worst of the sexualisation but I see it all around and it is horrible. Children are children for such a brief time so why on earth do parents feel the need to grow them up so quickly even without the sexiness side of things. Just let them be kids. Let them get dirty and climb trees, let them make dens and let them play. Adulthood

  • Taxandria Ataraxia

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    Eve though some say ear piercing is &quot;cultural&quot; it is still ornamental. There&#39;s even stuff in the Bible about not ornamenting yourself (and tattoos are not allowed for the same reasons) but so many people do it because society says to, or says it&#39;s okay. No one stops to think about it, they just do it. You have a girl and start poking holes in her because you have to ornament her

  • Taxandria Ataraxia

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    Sorry my comment went flying -- my twitter is https://twitter.com/Taxatarax. Thanks!

  • Stacey G

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    I have two boys but understand where ypu&#39;re coming from. Though re: the boy/girl friend thing - I may be guilty of that, oops!

  • Debbie Roberts

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    This is a great post Vicky. It makes me cringe when I hear parents referring to their young child as having a boyfriend or girlfriend. What&#39;s the rush? Another thing I notice is when parents or people call children sexy, in their minds they may not be comparing it too adult sexiness, but how is a child to know the difference.<br /><br />Encouraging little girls to paint their nails or put on

  • leighakendall

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    You&#39;re so right. I can remember when I was a little girl back in the early &#39;80s there was lots of hoohaa about slips being on sale for little girls in M&amp;S. The slips, as well as a number of other items, were supposed to be scaled-down versions of clothes their mothers would be wearing. The hoohaa was about children being encouraged to grow up before their time, rather than sexiness (

  • Anonymous

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    I can remember watching a documentary where police raided a paedophiles lock up and found frilly knickers. They kind that go over a nappy. That wasn&#39;t sexualized clothing. He was a paedophile.

    1. Vicky Charles

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      Thank you for your anonymous comment; I appreciate the sentiment but as mentioned in the post, I am not in any way saying parents encourage paedophiles. My problem is with the fact that as a society, we seem to want to dress small children in &quot;sexy&quot; clothing whilst simultaneously reviling people who see children as sexy. It seems hypocritical to me.

  • Anonymous

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    I disagree with dolling up kids as it is restrictive and sexist and believe in gender neutral parenting. BUT paedophilia is a seperate issue.. Before crop tops there were paedophiles.and scared kids who didn&#39;t understand to speak out ie saville case now..<br /><br />Communication is key to child protection not clothing

  • dadontouchline

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    You make some really excellent points here. To those, I would add that children will usually aspire to what their parents do. That means if you are over-conscious about your appearance, value clothes, jewelry, make-up, you can be pretty certain that your kids will too. @touchline_dad

  • Anonymous

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    No this is silly. Paedophiles pray On innocent, vulnerable children by sick,, twisted individuals. They do not select children they see dressed sexy in the same way a rapist doesn&#39;t choose the woman in the mini skirt.<br /><br />All children like to play dress up, sometimes babies wear only a nappy.<br /><br />In short this really deflects from the issue

    1. Vicky Charles

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      Thank you so much for your anonymous comment - however, if you had read the post properly, I did not mention anywhere, at any point, that the two were linked - merely that there is an ironic dichotomy in our society.

  • Louisa

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    Hi Vicky, I am a final year at NTU and I am studying age appropriate clothing and influencers on pre-adolescent girls and what they choose to wear for my final year dissertation. This post is really interesting, and I agree with you! Would I be able to email you with a few questions for my study? Just to get your opinions and help underpin my writing. Information you share would just stay within the university. Thanks, Louisa

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